“There were three passengers in the car, two died on the spot, while one was taken to hospital. Two are Kiptam and his coach,” said Peter Mulling, police commander in Algeyo Marakwet County in western Kenya, where the accident happened.
“It is Kiptam that was heading to Eldoret and the vehicle lost control and overturned, killing two on the spot. A female passenger sustained injuries and was rushed to hospital,” he told reporters.
Kiptum burst onto the marathon scene with a remarkable performance, setting a new world record of 2:00:35 in Chicago in October. The impressive feat saw him shave 34 seconds off fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s previous record. At just 23 years old and participating in only his third marathon, Kiptum’s achievement was truly remarkable.
Notably, Kiptam was victorious in his two previous marathon attempts, first on his debut in Valencia in 2022 and triumphing in London the following year.
With ambitious goals ahead, Kiptam announced his intention to make history by officially becoming the first person to complete a marathon under two hours, with plans to attempt the feat in Rotterdam on 14 April.
Given its exceptional performance and aspirations, Kiptom is widely regarded as a top contender for success at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
the world Athletics Kiptom remembered him as “one of the most exciting new prospects to hit the road in recent years”.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the devastating loss of Calvin Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement.
“On behalf of all of world athletics, we send our deepest condolences to his families, friends, teammates and the nation of Kenya.”
Just last week, Ko confirmed that he had flown to Chicago specifically to officially approve Kiptum’s historic timing.
“An incredible athlete leaving an incredible legacy, we will miss him dearly.”
Kenya’s two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the news.
“This is a big loss,” he posted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
Athletics Kenya expressed its condolences to “the entire athletics community during this difficult time”, while Kiptom’s agent, Mark Korstjens, also confirmed the “sad news”.
Kiptam hailed from Chepkorio village in the Rift Valley, known as Kenya’s epicenter of distance running, and tragically died there untimely.
A decade ago, barely a teenager, he spent his days herding goats and sheep as he gravitated towards trail runners like Hakizimana, a native of Rwanda, as they trained in the famed highlands.
In 2019, Kiptam made waves by completing two half-marathons in quick succession, in 60:48 in Copenhagen and an impressive 59:53 in Belfort, France. His partnership with Hakizimana began around this time, with the coach remaining in Kenya even as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.
Kiptam’s death adds to a series of tragedies that have plagued Kenya’s promising young athletes.
In 2011, the nation mourned the loss of marathon legend Samuel Wanjiru, who tragically died at the same age, having previously won the Olympic title at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A pathologist attributed Wanjiru’s death to blunt force trauma to the head.
More recently, in 2021, long-distance running sensation Agnes Tirop was found stabbed to death at her home in Iten, near Eldoret, aged just 25. Her husband Ibrahim Rotich faced trial for her murder in November of that year. Despite denying the charges, he was granted bail shortly before the trial began.
(with AFP inputs)
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